New Executive Director for Sydney Festival

Sydney Festival today announced Christopher Tooher as the new Executive Director for Sydney Festival, joining Festival Director Lieven Bertels.

Christopher Tooher is currently General Manager for Bell Shakespeare Company. He has a comprehensive career in the performing arts sector working in a variety of roles. Prior to Bell Shakespeare, Christopher worked as a Producer at Sydney Opera House and Director/CEO of Illawarra Performing Arts Centre in Wollongong. He is well respected in the arts industry and beyond, especially for his dedication and commitment to a number of Boards including Australian Dance Theatre, Legs on the Wall, Critical Path, Arts On Tour NSW, Performing Arts Touring Alliance and Australian Theatre Forum, as well as panels and committees for both the Australia Council for the Arts and Arts NSW.

Minister for Tourism, Major Events and the Arts, George Souris, congratulated Christopher Tooher on his appointment. "It's fantastic to have Christopher Tooher at Sydney Festival, bringing his experience from some of Australia's pre-eminent arts companies," Mr Souris said.

"Sydney Festival is one of Australia's premier and most important arts events and I am confident that Christopher will make a valued contribution to the Festival team alongside Festival Director Lieven Bertels.  Together they will present as a formidable pair."

Lord Mayor and Chair of Sydney Festival, Clover Moore MP said, "Christopher's experience managing touring and performance programs will be extremely valuable in his new role as Executive Director of Sydney Festival. This excellent decision rounds out the new leadership team's strong international connections with deep local production knowledge."

Christopher is thrilled about the new challenge, saying, "Sydney Festival is a preeminent cultural event on the Australian calendar. Its position is unrivalled, showcasing the best of the world's art in the country's truly global city, celebrated in summer and cherished and loved by the community. I look forward to working with Lieven and all the team in continuing to deliver a Festival that surprises, delights and exceeds the expectations of our audiences and community," he said.

Festival Director Lieven Bertels welcomes Christopher enthusiastically, "I am excited by his appointment and look forward to be working with Chris across my three Festivals 2013-2015. It is really wonderful to be able to complement our team with another leading Sydney arts professional, and this only weeks after the recruitment of Fiona Winning as our new Head of Programming."

Sydney Festival is one of Australia's best-loved annual events, attracting hundreds of thousands of people with its stunning array of free and ticketed performances in theatre, dance, music, film, visual arts and talks as well as its unrivalled program of free large-scale outdoor events. In 2012, more than 580,000 people enjoyed the Festival, which boasted 399 performances of 122 events, including 11 world premieres, 15 Australian exclusives and 14 Australian premieres.

Sydney Festival 2013 is on 5–28 January.

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